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Sun Sparks New Mobile Java Services

Java steward Sun Microsystems has announced a major upgrade to its Java-based mobile gadget services to accommodate what the company describes as more than 1.5 billion devices that run the popular programming language.

On Monday, the company said Java is gaining traction in the enterprise among mobile operators, device makers, application developers and content providers who realize the financial opportunities inherent in wireless data services powered by Java.

Currently, Java is used to power a wide array of devices and functions, such as identity cards, mobile gaming, printers, Web cams, telematics, desktops, servers, and even navigation controls for NASA's Mars Rover.

Sun is using the opening of the 3GSM World Congress wireless show in Cannes, France to announce software, services, as well as programs and customer wins to help looking to curry favor with customers who might be inclined to employ Microsoft's .NET-based offerings in their mobile products.

Calling Java's momentum "unstoppable," Juan Dewar, senior director of product marketing in the Consumer Mobile Systems Group at Sun, said Sun released Java for Smartphone HotSpot Implementation and J2ME Web services to allow mobile data services that integrate with Web services, which are considered a key driver of handheld device adoption for business and personal use.

Dewar said an implementation of J2ME, Java for Smartphones HI supports rich multimedia, messaging, and Web services. It has been licensed by several major manufacturers and is expected to ship in Java-based devices by late 2004 and early 2005.

The J2ME Web Services (JSR 172) API is compliant with specifications from the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) organization and allows smart phones and handheld computers to connect to Web services using XML and SOAP protocols. J2ME Web Services is available through Java for Smartphones HI and J2ME Wireless Toolkit.

John Jackson, analyst with the wireless technologies practice at The Yankee Group, said the new offerings were important and was particularly supportive of the new Web services API.

"I think what you're seeing here is very significant," Jackson told internetnews.com. "A lot of thought, effort and work has gone into improving the Java ecosystem. The first go around for J2ME had promise, but this time Sun is supplying multiple pieces of the puzzle and bootstrapping the ecosystem by providing guidance for mobile operators, content providers and developers."

Dewar also discussed new mobile operator offerings to cut costs and boost profits, including Java Enterprise System with support for the Liberty Alliance Phase 2 federated identity specification. The new Sun Java System Content Delivery Server 4.0 support for premium SMS so operators can sell content to unregistered users. The server includes "Send to a Friend" features, couponing, content bundling, and subscriber tracking and reporting capabilities.

Dewar also said the National Aeronautic and Science Administration (NASA) and the government of Thailand are currently using Java digital identity smart cards.

NASA will issue a Java "One NASA" smart card to make security management easier by consolidating employee and contractor access cards into a single card for entry to NASA centers and systems. NASA expects to ultimately deploy more than 100,000 smart cards by the end of 2005.

The government of Thailand will begin issuing the first of 62 million Java smart cards to citizens and government representatives in April 2004. Users' personal identification information will be stored on the cards, so citizens will be able to connect to government services at kiosks and through smart card readers in desktop computers nationwide.

Also at 3GSM this week, Sun will join Motorola, Nokia, Siemens, Sony Ericsson to launch the ""Java Verified" program to provide a unified process for the testing and certification of Java applications for mobile handsets.

The program is designed to reduce development costs of mobile Java service and usher them to the market. Developers can access a pool of wireless Java applications to produce games, movie guides and video news clips.

Jackson said Sun has to take steps to drive development and pointed to Sun's refreshed Java.com wireless options, as well as the Java Verified program, he said has the potential to radically simplify the landscape for developers. Still, there are no sure bets in this climate.

"It's still not clear what operators' attitudes toward Java Verified would be but it's a big hurdle that's being addressed here," Jackson said.



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